The idea of cheese making may conjure up images of green pastures and ancient stone caves, but the truth is you can make fresh cheese without much muss or fuss in your own kitchen. Do you really need a cheese-making kit? No, but a cute box of helpful stuff makes the project more inviting, and saves you a bit of legwork.
The kit comes with packets of citric acid and cheese salt (non-iodized salt), as well as a cooking thermometer, two cheese moulds, cheesecloth and instructions. You need to source your own goat milk (available at many major grocery stores) as well as a large saucepan, a colander and some herbs and/or spices. Easy enough. In terms of method, the process is not complicated and the instructions are good. The cheese is acidified with citric acid either before heating (for soft cheese) or after the milk is heated (for a firmer chèvre). From there, it's just a matter of letting the milk split into curds and whey, then pouring the mixture through cheesecloth to drain before salting and spooning into moulds. Getting the little wheels out of the moulds looked as though it might be tricky, but after cooling in the fridge, my little cheeses popped out quite nicely.
The kit contains enough citric acid and cheese salt to make many batches of cheese, and the thermometer and cheese moulds can be used over and over. Only the cheesecloth will need to be replaced after a couple of batches, and it is easily obtained at the grocery store for a few bucks.
As long as you work with good-quality fresh milk, your cheese will be light, tangy and delish. Personally, I wouldn't bother with anything other than full-fat goat milk (3.25 per cent), but to each her own. My only disappointment was that the kit – in fact, the whole project – was a bit straightforward. Where were the cultures to add and the curds to cut? This method reminds me of a quick ricotta recipe I've tried using lemon juice (the resulting cheese does have a ricotta-like texture). But unlike real ricotta, this cheese is made from whole milk, not just whey, so the yield is a bit stingy – two quarts of milk make only six ounces of cheese. Still, if what you're after is quick and easy fresh cheese, this is your kit.
DIY Goat Cheese-Making Kit, Williams-Sonoma, $39.95